Sailing Movies

Introduction:

This list grew out of an experience I had several years ago while surfing nautical sites. I went to what purported to be a list of nautical movies, and there I found listed 4 or 5 documentaries, a couple of WWII submarine movies, and about a half a dozen sailing movies. Well, I own more sailing movies than that, so I thought I'd type up a list of the movies I knew about and e-mail it to this person. It just got out of hand. The list kept getting longer, friends started giving me suggestions, I started adding comments about the movies I really liked, and then Geni showed me the IMDb (Internet Movie Database). What you see here is the result. And you see it here because Geni decided she needed the experience building a website.

Availability of these movies changes frequently, with movies going out of print, and the studios reissuing movies.  There are a couple of mega sites that sell used movies, DVDs, and VHS tapes and it’s always worth checking them for the movies you’re looking for.  The proliferation of cable channels means that a lot of these movies get broadcast once in a while, so I've noted which ones are available (and which format), and the rest, well, check your local listings.

My Criteria: The movies on this list have something to do with sailing (there are two exceptions, one notable - The African Queen, the other whimsical - The Wind in the Willows), whether it be yachts or tall ships, modern or historical. I have tried to include not only the movies about sailing, but also any movie where sailing, or sailboats, plays a significant role in the movie. This can be very arbitrary. For example, Geni suggested Star Trek - Generations, because of the sequence in the beginning onboard the sailing ship Enterprise. I chose not to (even though they used a real sailing ship, The Lady Washington), as this was essentially an aside, and has no real significance to the film. I have, on the other hand, included movies (some of the swashbucklers and some historical types), where there's a minimum amount of sailing, because they are about sailors, i.e., Columbus, Sinbad, etc.

The great thing about these old swashbucklers is that the violence is nowhere near the level of today's films, there is no gore, and the sex is, at most, implied. These are the kind of films you can throw in the VCR at Thanksgiving (after the games are over) when you have the little kids and Grandma in the room.

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Ratings: I've only rated movies that I have seen recently enough to remember something about.

I have to explain something here, Geni has complained about my rating system being "overly generous." I’m not trying to rate these movies the way Roger Ebert does (I'm not qualified for that), nor are they rated with all movies. These ratings only apply to how I think they rank within the genre. And let's face it folks, the genre isn't that big - we don't have several hundred sailing movies to choose from. Even with the easy standards I have for inclusion, this list looks like it'll top out at under 200 (180 to date). So if we're going to watch movies with any kind of sailing at all, we can't be too picky.

***** The Classics!  Classics in every sense of the word!  The stories, acting, and production values would put these movies near the top of any movie list.  If you're going to own movies, these are a must.  It’s worth noting that of the 14 movies I've given 5 stars to, only 1 of them (White Squall) is not based on classic literature, or written by a noteworthy author.

**** The Great Ones.  These are movies that I consider great within the genre.  Once is not enough for these: the story, acting, and sailing are enjoyable enough to watch again and again.

*** The Good Ones.  All these movies are worth seeing at least once, and some of them have a cult following. (Cabin Boy springs immediately to mind.)  This is the category that I get the most argument about.

** The Bad Ones.  Flawed, but possibly worth renting, if you can find them and happen to be bedridden for some reason.  Or if you happen to be a fan of a particular actor/actress.  There are a couple of movies that are included here only because there are much better versions available.

* The Ugly Ones Don’t waste your time. Seriously, folks, the movies to which I've given one star aren't even bad enough to be funny.  No entertainment value at all.
 
 

Caveat: The criteria for inclusion, the ratings, and my comments are all my personal opinions. You can e-mail me your opinions and suggestions. Whether or not I make use of them (this is, after all, my list), will depend on how valid I think they are, and how civilly they are offered.
 

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Adrift *

1993 Made-for-TV imitation of Dead Calm, with Kate Jackson. Very lame. It cost me $1.07 to rent this, and it was still too much.  I can’t believe they put this on DVD.
Available DVD)

Adventure

1945 Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Joan Blondel. Womanizing sailor meets his match when he falls in love with a librarian.  This was Clark Gable's first film after being away for WWII.  This movie gets great customer reviews on Amazon.
Note: I’ve not seen this movie, and there is some evidence that Gable plays a Merchant Marine in the steamer fleet, and this may not even be a sailing movie.  If someone out there knows for sure, drop me a line.
Available DVD

Adventures in Paradise ****

1959 - 1962 Classic TV series starring Gardner MacKay, and a schooner named the Tiki.  Developed by James A. Michener from his books of the same title, and sold to 20th Century Fox.  This is the only American TV show - to my knowledge - built around a sailing ship, and it is the series that started a lot of ‘boomers’ dreaming about sailing off to a life of adventure in the South Seas. It's certainly what first attracted me to schooners, traditional sail, and wooden boats.  At 12 years old I made two abortive attempts to run away to join Captain Troy in Tahiti.  Bygone Video has over 50 episodes available on DVD (2 episodes per DVD, approx 40 DVDs available).  I have a boxed set of DVDs (24 DVDs with 65 episodes), that I got from Amazon.com.  Boxed and marketed by CTVD Video, and AudioTape, inc., I can find no current website for either company.
Available DVD

The Adventures of Captain Fabian **

1951 Errol Flynn, Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead.  Dashing sea captain comes to the aid of a lovely lady.  This is the least likable of Flynn's four seagoing dramas, a low budget disappointment to all but the most ardent fans of Errol Flynn.  This is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Captain Blood - both in terms of his career, and in entertainment value.  In 1951 Flynn was up to his ears in trouble, facing statutory rape charges in the US, and his career flagging.  He was living on his yacht in Europe when he conceived this project, and wrote the script, with the hope of reviving his career.
Available VHS

 

The Adventures of Long John Silver

1955 (TV) Robert Newton recreates his role of Long John Silver, the pirate he portrayed in the Disney film "Treasure Island, in 26 episodes of this syndicated-for-TV series.
Available DVD, VHS  Reviewed by Blackhawk

 

The African Queen *****

1951 The classic Bogart - Hepburn vehicle. It's not sailing, but it is a wonderful small-boat adventure story. Based on the novel by C.S. Forester (of Horatio Hornblower fame), written by James Agee and John Huston, directed by John Huston.  Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay, (Agee & Huston), Best Actress, (Hepburn), and Best Director, (Huston).  Bogart won the Oscar for Best Actor. Rated by the IMDb viewers as the 56th best movie of all time.
Available DVD, VHS, (A special edition LaserDisc was released in 1993 that included Hepburn's book about the movie, and a printed copy of the shooting script).

1977 A made-for-TV remake, starring Warren Oates & Mariette Hartley, that is thankfully;
Not available

Against All Flags ***

1952 Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn. Set in the 1700s, Royal Navy versus the pirate republic in Madagascar. Okay, it's all models and sets (except for the outdoor scenes, actually shot in Madagascar), no real sailing, but at least they were pretending to sail, and it is an entertaining swashbuckler. Maureen O'Hara played one of the pirates, and did her own fencing during the sword fights. She looked as believable as Flynn or Quinn.
Available VHS,  Available in a 4 movie DVD set that includes Buccaneer's Girl / Yankee Buccaneer / Double Crossbones

All the Brothers Were Valiant**

1953  Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger.  Sea-faring saga of two brothers and the woman they both love, involved in pearl diving and mutiny in the South Pacific islands
Available VHS  reviewed by Blackhawk

Amistad ***

1997 Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Mathew MacConaughey, Pete Postlethwaite, Directed by Steven Spielberg.  Fact-based story of the 1839 revolt aboard a Spanish slave schooner, and the subsequent legal battle over the status of the slaves when the vessel took refuge in the United States.  A great movie that tells this story wonderfully.  There are some worthwhile sailing sequences early in the film, but this is primarily a courtroom drama, not a sea story.  
Available DVD, VHS

And The Sea Will Tell

1991 TV mini series based on a true story of murder in the south seas, and the subsequent trial.  I have not seen this, but what I’ve read leads me to believe that it’s primarily a court room drama about sailors.  I’m not at all sure how much sailing is actually shown in the movie.  According to the message boards on the IMDb, this movie gets shown a lot.  The movie is based on the book of the same title, written by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson.
Not Available

Anne of the Indies

1951 Jean Peters, Louis Jordan, Debra Paget.  A woman pirate tries to find love while maintaining command of her crew. 
Available  DVD, region 1, and amazon  instant video.  Review provided by Blackhawk

Anything to Survive ***

1990 Made-for-TV movie, starring Robert Conrad, Matt LeBlanc, and Emily Perkins.  Based on Elmo Wortman’s book, "Almost Too Late".   A true story of a man and his three children shipwrecked while winter sailing in southeastern Alaska.  Worthwhile catching on a late show as an example of what not to do, particularly if you want the kids to remember you on Father's Day.
Not available

Billy Budd

1962 Written, directed, produced by, and starring, Peter Ustinov. Also starring Terence Stamp (in the title role), Robert Ryan, and David McCallum.  Based on the Herman Melville novel, the story chronicles the harsh, brutal conditions in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. An Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Terence Stamp).
Available DVD, VHS.  Also available in a 5 movies DVD set that includes Madame Bovary (1949), Captain Horatio Hornblower, The Three Musketeers (1948), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 and 1952 Versions)

The Black Pirate***

1926  Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove.  Seeking revenge, an athletic young man joins the pirate band responsible for his father’s death.  Fairbanks put a lot into this production, building ships and ship sets.  There is lots of action and humor, as normal for one of Doug’s movies.
Available DVD, VHS (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)
 Reviewed by Blackhawk
  

The Black Swan ***

1942 Pirate epic with Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara, George Sanders, Laird Cregar, and Anthony Quinn. Based on the Rafael Sabatini novel, it's very entertaining; my boys loved it. It will seem dated in most respects, although there is a scene in the beginning where the pirate captains, Tyrone and Sanders, have some captive women tied up, that I found somewhat lascivious, and which provoked the comment from my then 13-year-old "there's the best reason for becoming a pirate!" Appears to have been filmed with sets and models. Oscar nominations for Best Special Effects, and Best Score, winner for Best Cinematography-Color.
Available DVD ,VHS

Blackbeard the Pirate

1952 Robert Newton, William Bendix and Linda Darnell. Henry Morgan vs. Blackbeard.
Available DVD

Botany Bay

1953 Alan Ladd, James Mason, directed by John Farrow. Based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, it tells the story of the founding fathers of Australia, and the grueling 267-day sea voyage to Australia in a prison ship.
Available VHS

 

The Boy and the Pirates

1960 Charles Herbert, Susan Gordon.  A children’s fantasy about life as a pirate. Lots of boyish adventure. Blackbeard, and sloops, and man-o-wars, treasure chests, rum and adventures. The movie was aimed at 10-12 year olds.
Available DVD, as a two movie set with Crystalstone

 

The Buccaneer

Three versions of the story of Jean Lafitte have been filmed. Interestingly, there's quite a connection between the 1938 and 1958 versions. Cecil B. DeMille directed the '38 version, and was executive producer for the '58. Anthony Quinn starred in the '38, and directed the '58 (his only directorial effort). Both versions are based on the novel by Lyle Saxon. The '38 screenwriters, Harold Lamb, Jeanie MacPherson, E.J. Mayer, and C.G. Sullivan are credited on the '58 version (with the addition of B.Mosk and J. Lasskey).

1938 Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Fredric March in the title role, with Anthony Quinn, Walter Brennan, Hugh Sothern, and Margot Grahame. Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
Not available

1950 The Last of the Buccaneers, with Paul Henreid as Lafitte
Not available

1958 *** Directed by Anthony Quinn; Yul Brynner as Lafitte, Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson, with Claire Bloom, Charles Boyer, Inger Stevens, E.G. Marshall, and Lorne Greene. Oscar nomination for Best Costumes.  Like the Disney version of Kidnapped, this movie baffles me.  With this cast, and a true story in which a couple of rogues like Lafitte and Jackson cross paths, you'd think they would have made a rousing swashbuckler.  But you'd be wrong.  It's dull, and stilted, and slow moving.  And the two principal characters are portrayed as so respectable that you'd be hard-pressed to believe that Lafitte was a pirate, and that Jackson was a hot-headed, hard-drinking, gambling, duel-fighting, marriage-wrecking, frontier Indian fighter.
Available VHS (out of print) (Chinese bootleg DVD’s appear to be available, but the were made from VHS tapes)

The Buccaneers

1956 (TV) Robert Shaw, Alec Clunes, George Margo.  Dan Tempest (Shaw) was a pirate until pardoned by the King.  He becomes a privateer and works with the Crown-appointed deputy governor to fight the Spanish privateers who are ravaging the Caribbean.  This costume drama was produced in England for American TV.  The three DVD set includes all 39 original episodes.  This gets very positive reviews from Amazon viewers.
Available DVD  reviewed by Blackhawk

The Buccaneer's Girl

1950 Pirate adventure/comedy. Directed by Frederic De Cordova, Yvonne De Carlo, Phillip Friend, Robert Douglas.
Available in a 4 movie DVD set that includes Against All Flags / Yankee Buccaneer / Double Crossbones

Cabin Boy ***

1994 Chris Elliott, Ritch Brinkley, James Gammon. Written by Chris Elliott. I know, I know, it's silly and it's filmed entirely on a set, but they're at least pretending to be sailing, and it does have some funny bits in it. It starts off as a parody of Captains Courageous, but then sails off into the land of Sinbad. My boys and I watched it one afternoon when they were home with the flu, for which this is just right.  It's developed something of a cult following.
Available DVD. 

Captain Blood****

1935 Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone. The movie that defined Hollywood seagoing swashbucklers!  Based on the Rafael Sabatini novel, it borrows heavily from the Henry Morgan legend. The 1935 version was 119 minutes long, the 1991 reissue had 20 minutes of footage removed.  The new DVD in the Errol Flynn box set has those 20 minutes restored.  This was the movie that made stars out of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, who would go on to make nine movies together.  Oscar nominations for Best Picture 1935, and Best Sound.
Available DVD, VHS 

This film spawned a couple of sequels, and one remake.

1950 Fortunes of Captain Blood. Louis Hayward, Patricia Medina. Sequel to Captain Blood.
Available DVD, as a 2 movie set with Captain Pirate

1952 Captain Pirate. Louis Hayward, Patricia Medina. Sequel to Fortunes of Captain Blood
Available DVD, as a 2 movie set with Captain Blood

1960 Le Capitan. A French version
Not available

1962 Son of Captain Blood. Italian version, starring Errol Flynn's 21-year-old son Sean, as the son of Captain Blood. Sean Flynn was the oldest child, and only son, of actor Errol Flynn and his first wife, Lili Damita. One of six films Sean Flynn made before turning to a career in journalism. In 1970 Flynn — a photojournalist working for Time magazine — and a friend sped off on motorbikes to cover the front lines in Cambodia, and were never seen again. It is believed that they were captured and eventually executed by communist forces, although unconfirmed sightings of Flynn were reported over the years. 
Available VHS (appears - from the prices I’ve seen - to be a collectors’ item)

Captain Calamity

1936  A South Seas schooner captain fights off thieves and pirates who are after a lost treasure. Tropical settings, sailing vessels, bad people, not so bad people, good people, sounds like Adventures in Paradise.
Available DVD, (seems to be in a lot of DVD sets)

Captain Horatio Hornblower ****

1951 Gregory Peck in the title role, with Virginia Mayo as the love interest. Based on the novel by C.S. Forester. A very entertaining swashbuckler! If the plot seems familiar to today's readers of Patrick O'Brian novels, it's because both Forester and O'Brian used the real life exploits of Thomas Cochrane on which to model their heroes.
Available DVD

Captain Jack ***

1999 A pleasant little movie inspired by true events.  Bob Hoskins plays a loveable rogue, who sets to sea headed for the Arctic, in a ship deemed unseaworthy by authorities, with a makeshift crew.  The purpose is to dramatize the 1791 journey of Captain Scoresby, a Whitby local much ignored by history.  The authorities pursue.
Available DVD

Captain James Cook

1987 Made-for-TV miniseries (Australia, shown in the US on TNT). Keith Mitchell, John Greg, Carol Drinkwater.  An exceptionally well done historical miniseries that tells the story of Captain James Cook’s three voyages. Filmed on the Endeavor replica and lots of South Pacific locations (around Australia and New Zealand), it is very realistic, historically accurate (as far as I can tell) and a good story. 
Available DVD, region 4 format

Captain Kidd

1945 Charles Laughton in the title role, with Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, and John Carradine. Historically inaccurate account of Capt. Kidd. Oscar nomination for Best Score.
Available DVD, VHS, (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

This really isn't a sequel, but for obvious reasons I felt compelled to include it here.

1952 Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd. Charles Laughton reprising his role as Capt Kidd, kidnapping Bud and Lou who are in possession of a treasure map. They manage to involve Anne Bonney and Henry Morgan.
Available DVD, VHS

Captain Ron ****

1992 Kurt Russell, Martin Short and Mary Kay Place in a funny and entertaining tale of Ozzie and Harriet meet the last pirate of the Caribbean. Lightweight, but fun.  The sailing is, for the most part, genuine.
Available DVD, VHS 

Captain Sirocco

1949  AKA I Pitari de Capri (Italian title), Pirates of Capri (the original US release title), and The Masked Pirate (UK release title)  An Italian swashbuckler starring Louis Hayward.  The review on IMDb calls it an entertaining “B” movie.
Available DVD

Captains Courageous

Three versions of Rudyard Kipling's classic:

1937 ***** Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney, Melvyn Douglas and John Carradine. Well-adapted from Rudyard Kipling's great story, and well-acted, this is an excellent picture in all regards. The only negative thing I can say is that Freddie Bartholomew was too young to play Harvey Cheyne (Hollywood's usual habit of portraying teenage characters as cute, precocious 10-year-olds). On the plus side they filmed this using real Gloucester fishing schooners, and what looked like footage of actual fisherman. There are a couple of scenes that were almost certainly shot on a set, but they did an excellent job blending them into actual footage shot on the deck and interior of the real thing. The scenes of the schooners under sail are by themselves worth the price of admission. Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Picture. Spencer Tracy won the Oscar for Best Actor. My boys (14 and 11 at the time) rated this right up there with Moby Dick, Sea Wolf and Treasure Island.
Available DVD, VHS 

1977 Made-for-TV. Karl Malden, Fred Gwynn, Ricardo Montalban, Fritz Weaver.
Not available

1996 Made-for-TV. Robert Urich.  I've read that Kenny Vadas did the best Harvey Cheyne of all the versions.
Available VHS

Christopher Columbus

Four versions of the Christopher Columbus story:

1949 Fredric March in the title role.
Available DVD

1985 Made-for-TV. Gabriel Byrne as Columbus, with Faye Dunaway, Oliver Reed, Eli Wallach, and Max Von Sydow.
Available VHS

1992 The Discovery.  One of two done for the quincentennial. Georges Corraface as Columbus, with Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, and Rachel Ward. Nominated for six Razzie awards: Worst Remake or Sequel; Worst Screenplay (Mario Puzo); Worst Director (John Glen III); Worst New Star (George Corraface); Worst Supporting Actor (Marlon Brando) (and the winner was...Tom Selleck!). Roger Ebert memorably remarked about Brando's acting, "He's phoned in roles before, but this was the first time I felt like hanging up."
Available VHS 

1992 1492-The Conquest of Paradise. The story of Christopher Columbus as directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Gerard Depardieu, Armand Assante and Sigourney Weaver. Made for the quincentennial of Columbus' voyage, this is considered to be the best of the Columbus movies.
Available DVD, VHS 

Colossus and the Amazon Queen

1960 Italian toga film.   Two heroes of the Trojan War are taken prisoner by an army of Amazons while guarding a valuable cargo. When pirates attack them, the prisoners and the Amazons take the same side.  The reviewers are not kind.
Available DVD, VHS, (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

Corsair

1945 Chester Morris, Thelma Todd (the”Ice Cream Blonde”, remembered principally today as the victim in a murder scandal), in Roland West’s movie of a failed stockbroker who roams the high seas robbing bootleg liquor from other bootleggers, including his former boss (and father of his girlfriend).
Available DVD, VHS, (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

The Crimson Pirate ****

1952 Burt Lancaster and Nick Cravat. Burt does a very good Errol Flynn. An enjoyable, although dated, pirate film that the kids loved. Very tongue in cheek, with a lot of beefcake, the fans of the young Lancaster will love this movie. Prior to breaking into films, Burt and Nick were an acrobatic team known as "Lang & Cravat." They do a lot of acrobatic stunts in this movie, which added greatly to the kids' enjoyment. This is the movie that Cutthroat Island tried to be.  Burt had the idea in 1977 (at the age of 64) to make a sequel to this movie, and hired George MacDonald Fraser (Three Musketeers, Four Musketeers) to write a script.  It’s unfortunate that nothing came of it, as Fraser had a deft hand at scripting swashbucklers.
Available DVD, VHS

 

Crystalstone

1988  Spanish children’s film (in English).  Orphaned children escape evil aunt and find refuge and adventures with drunken sea captain.
Available DVD as a two movie set with The Boy and the Pirates

 

Cutthroat Island ***

1995 Geena Davis, Matthew Modine and Frank Langella. Made by Renny Harlin, the director of Die Hard (and Geena Davis' then-husband), there's lots of action and explosions; some not very believable ships and sailing sequences, and the coast of Thailand passing as the Caribbean. Davis has the physical size to be believable brawling and sword fighting, and Modine in his second "sailing" movie tried hard to be swashbuckling, but needed a better-written role. The only redeeming feature of this movie was Frank Langella hamming it up as the "bad" pirate. Davis reportedly has been quoted as saying "we were having so much fun, we forgot we were making a movie." Certain age groups, raised on Die Hard and Terminator will think this is just great. My boys (10 & 13 when we saw this) did. Harlin was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director. (The three-star rating is a composite - the kids would give it five, Geni gives it one, owing to its apparent lack of a script, and a number of quite pointless explosions.)
Available DVD, VHS 

Damn the Defiant!***

1962 AKA HMS Defiant (UK title)  Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde.   An enjoyable movie that doesn’t quite accomplish its mission.

Available DVD, VHS 

Dead Calm ****

1989 Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane, a gorgeous 60 ft ketch, and a dying schooner.  An intense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It has only one negative, and that's the way it ended.  Other than that, it's a great movie, skillfully directed to keep the blood pounding, even after repeated viewings.  And it's a wonderful sailing movie!  Except for the first ten minutes, it takes place entirely at sea, and was in fact shot in the Whitsunday Passage in Australia.  The boat handling looked real and the way the two characters handle the challenges presented them are very believable.  As in The Riddle of the Sands, the difficulty of navigating under adverse conditions was utilized perfectly to heighten the tension, and to make it a more believable sailing film.  This movie, in my opinion, is runner-up to White Squall as the best sailing movie not based on classic literature, and is sitting on the fence for that 5th star.
Available DVD, VHS

Desperate Journey: The Allison Wilcox story

1993 Made-for-TV. Mel Harris, John Schneider. I can find no info on this.  The reviews on the IMDb are not encouraging.
Not available

The Dove

1974 Based on Robin Graham's true story of sailing alone around the world at age 15. Joseph Bottoms, Deborah Raffin. Bottoms was nominated for a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.
Available VHS

Double Crossbones*

1951  An oddball comedy pirate movie starring Donald O’Connor as a pirate by mistake, singing and dancing his way out of trouble, and into the heart of his true love.  I read on the IMDb that Donald O’Connor thought this was the worst movie he made.  I’ll defer to his judgment.  There’s nothing here even for the most devoted O’Connor fan.  There’s only one song & dance, and the song was horrible.
Available in a 4 movie DVD set that includes Against All Flags, Buccaneer's Girl, and Yankee Buccaneer

Down To The Sea In Ships
There are two movies with this title, both about whaling, but other than that they bear no resemblance to one another.

1922 Of note mostly as the screen debut of Clara Bow, this silent epic was shot entirely on location in New Bedford and at sea.  Real footage of actual whaling was used.  The DVD is available only as a part of a Clara Bow set, the VHS is available separately.
Available DVD, VHS

1949 Lionel Barrymore, Dean Stockwell, Richard Widmark.  I know little of this movie, other than it’s about whaling, and reportedly a decent enough film.
Not Available (I have read that it’s available in Spain on DVD-region 2)

Drake’s Venture

1980 Made-for-TV miniseries (UK, shown in the US on PBS). John Thaw, Charlotte Cornwell.  Sir Francis Drake circumnavigates the world in search of adventure and treasure. I don’t know where the ship used in this came from but it looks right for the period.
Not available

Eric the Viking ***

1989 Written, directed by, and starring Monty Python's Terry Jones. Also starring Tim Robbins, John Cleese, Freddie Jones, and bit parts by Mickey Rooney, Eartha Kitt, and Tsutomu Sekine. Viking saga a la Monty Python. Very silly in spots, but surprisingly entertaining with more story than I would have thought.  Monty Python fans will rate this movie a lot higher.
Available DVD, VHS

Frenchman’s Creek
There are two versions of the Daphne Du Maurier novel of an English lady falling in love with a French pirate.  Mostly a romance, with little sailing.

1944 Starring Joan Fontaine, Arturo De Cordova, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.  This movie is noteworthy in that it’s the only movie Rathbone and Bruce made together where they’re not playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson.
Available VHS

1998 Made for (British) TV, Starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon
Available DVD, VHS

Hell Ship Mutiny

1957 Jon Hall, John Carradine, Peter Lorre.  Low budget South Seas tale, with evil gangsters, brave sailors, and beautiful native women. 
Available DVD  (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD) 

His Majesty O'Keefe**

1953 Burt Lancaster. Based on a true story.  Not a bad movie for Burt fans, but very dated.  There’s a minimum amount of sailing, and little regard for historical accuracy.
Available DVD, VHS   

A High Wind in Jamaica *****

1965 Anthony Quinn and James Coburn in a tale of the last days of Caribbean piracy. An excellent movie, based on the novel by Richard Arthur Warren Hughes. To read a thoughtful, intelligent review of this movie written by Shane R. Burridge, go to A High Wind In Jamaica - Review.
Available DVD

Horatio Hornblower ****

1999  The TV adaptation of C.S. Forester's classic Napoleonic war saga.  The critics gave it mixed reviews, for which they should be flogged.  Well written, superbly acted, with lots of actual sailing aboard real tall ships.  Ioan Gruffydd deserves special note for his portrayal of young Hornblower as he blossoms from raw cadet into an experienced and confident naval officer.  They used two actual tall ships in this production, the Grand Turk, in the role of all the frigates, but especially as Indefatigable, and the Baltic trading schooner Julia, as all the smaller vessels.  They used 11 scale models for the battle scenes.  These models weighed 3,000 lbs each, and had working rigging and cannons that fired by remote control.
Episode 1: The Even Chance
Episode 2: The Examination For Lieutenant
Episode 3: The Duchess and the Devil
Episode 4:  The Frogs and Lobsters
2001
Episode 5:  Mutiny
Episode 6: Retribution
2003
Episode 7: Loyalty
Episode 8: Duty
Available DVD, VHS

I Sailed to Tahiti With an All-Girl Crew.

1968 Yes, that really is the title. A 1968 comedy with Gardner McKay of Adventures in Paradise fame.
Not available

 

Jamaica Inn

1939 Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Charles Laughton, Robert Newton and Maureen O’Hara.  A tale of Cornish ship wreckers.  This is loosely based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, although uncredited.
Available DVD  (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD

1983 TV Miniseries starring Jane Seymour and Patrick McGoohan.  Several amazon reviewers stated that this version followed the novel much more closely.
Available VHS

Jason and the Argonauts

1963 The film version of the legend of the Golden Fleece. With Todd Armstrong and Nancy Kovak. Special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
Available DVD, VHS 

John Paul Jones

1958 Robert Stack as the short, slight, sandy haired Scotsman? Oh well. Bette Davis, Peter Cushing and Mia Farrow. Directed by John Farrow (Mia's father).
Available VHS

Kidnapped!

One of the two Robert Louis Stevenson novels that has been a perennial favorite of movie makers; nine versions have been made to date, the last three TV movies or miniseries.   

1917 silent

1938 Freddie Bartholomew, John Carradine

1948 Roddy McDowell, Dan O'Herlihy

1960 *** Disney version. Peter Finch, James MacArthur, Peter O'Toole.  It has an excellent cast, (although I think that MacArthur is the weak link as Balfour) and a script that stuck closely to RLS's story, but  I've never particularly liked this version.  It seems dull, and that shouldn't be, this is an exciting adventure story.  I have a copy of this, because I got it cheap and none of the other versions were available at the time.  This should be in the classics, but in truth I can't even give it a four star rating.
Available DVD, VHS

1971 Michael Caine, Trevor Howard.  I've only seen two versions of this movie, this one and the Disney version.  It's been a long time since I've seen this, but I have much fonder memories of this one, although that could be because I'm a big Michael Caine fan.
Available instant download from Amazon.com

1978 Made-for-TV (German)

1995***** Made-for-TV (USA) Armand Assante, Brian Blessed. Leonard Maltin gives this version an excellent review, citing in particular Assante's portrayal of Beck, the newcomer playing Balfour (Brian McCardie), and the script for sticking closely to the story as RLS wrote it.  This was filmed in Ireland using a British cast, and broadcast on cable TV in two parts.  I have to agree with Leonard Maltin, everything about this movie was excellent! 
 Available DVD, VHS

2005 **Made for TV (MasterPiece Theater)  It’s not often MasterPiece Theater disappoints me, but they managed to with this one.  I thought the pacing of the film was dreadful – why all the scenes of clouds being blown across the sky?  I wasn’t impressed with any of the acting.
Available DVD

The King's Pirate

1967 Remake of Against All Flags. Doug McClure, Jill St. John.
Not available

Knife in the Water (Noz w wodzie)*****

1962 Polish film, directed by Roman Polanski.  An interesting psycho-drama, this was the first Polish film to be nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar.  It forms part of a loose trilogy of Polanski films (with Cul-de-Sac (1966) and Death and the Maiden (1994), based around a psychological ménage-à-trois. All three films feature a couple whose lives are turned upside down by an outside character.  In this case it’s a successful middle aged man and his younger wife picking up a young hitchhiker and taking him along on a weekend sailing trip.  It’s an interesting story, well worth seeing apart from the sailing.  And I loved the sailing aspect of it!  Except for the first 10 minutes, and the last two, the movie takes place entirely aboard the boat.  It’s a beautiful little wooden sloop, 30’-35’, sailing on some undetermined waterways (lakes, canals, possibly a river), somewhere in Poland.  And the characters, like most of us, are sailing because they love it, it’s their recreation.  The actors portraying the husband and wife obviously knew how to sail, and the cramped conditions aboard a weekender form an integral part of the drama.
Available DVD, VHS

The Lady From Shanghai ****

1948 Film noir. Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, and a fateful yacht trip. An offbeat, cerebral thriller that is somewhat predictable at times. Filmed aboard Errol Flynn's yacht Zaca. Directed by Orson Welles.
Available DVD, VHS 

The Last of the Buccaneers

1950 The story of what happened to Lafitte after the Battle of New Orleans.  It involves piracy (against the Spanish), treasure, brushes with the American law, and beautiful women.  Starring Paul Henreid as Lafitte.
Not Available

Law of the Sea

1931 A sadistic, evil ship captain lusts after a beautiful young girl he spots in town. It turns out that she's the girlfriend of a young man whose father the captain had blinded and cast adrift on the ocean many years before.  A reviewer on the IMDb wrote “Once you've seen it you won't need to see it again.”
Available DVD,  (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD) 

Lifeboat *****

1944 An extraordinary tale of survival at sea in a small boat. Written by John Steinbeck, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and featuring compelling character portraits by a great cast, including Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, and Hume Cronyn.  Oscar nominations for Best Director (Hitchcock), Best Screenplay (Steinbeck), and Best Cinematography.  Made during WWII, it’s the story of the survivors of a battle between a US ship and a German U-Boat in a life boat together.  An intelligent and thought provoking script by Steinbeck, great direction from Hitchcock, and noteworthy performances by Bankhead & Hume Cronyn.  And some good sailing in an open boat.
Available DVD, VHS 

Longitude****

2000 Made-for-TV miniseries (UK, shown in the US on A&E). Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons.  Told in two parallel stories separated by two hundred years.  In the 18th century, clock-maker Harrison builds the first chronometer accurate enough to determine longitude at sea, making navigation safe and practical anywhere.  In the 20th century, Gould is obsessed with restoring Harrison’s chronometer.  This is a very well done production that tells a little-known story that is of very significant importance to maritime history, and thus to world history.  And a good deal of it takes place at sea.  I am not sure the Jeremy Irons subplot is necessary (and the series gets four stars instead of five because of that) but it is well acted and does provide some historical context.
Available DVD   Reviewed by Blackhawk

Long John Silver’s Return to Treasure Island

1954 Robert Newman reprising his role as Long John Silver.
Available DVD,  (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD) 

The Long Ships

1963 Viking saga with Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier.
Available DVD, VHS

Lost! ***

1986 Based on the Thomas Thompson book, the true story of what happens when you go to sea with religious fanatics.  I’ve seen this only once, 20 years ago, but I remember this as a very good, if disturbing film.
Not available

Lucky Lady****

1975 Comedy about Prohibition rumrunners with Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman, Liza Minelli, Robbie Benson, John Hillerman and a yacht named Lucky Lady.  (Liza was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a comedy). This movie sticks in my mind because if I remember correctly, they gave away the sailboat as a promotion for the movie (and I think Lucky Strike cigarettes had something to do with it - but I'm not positive). Anyway, I didn't win it, and had to wait 20 more years to get a large wooden sailboat. I recently bought a DVD of this movie, and watched it with the wife.  It starts kind of slow, and a little lame, but picks up, and becomes a very enjoyable film.   There was actually quite a bit of sailing in the movie, and Burt, Liza and Gene looked like they were having fun making it.  Aside from the one sailboat, there are about 40 power boats in the movie, and at the climax they are all on the screen at the same time.   It’s one of the few sailing movies where the interior scenes were shot on a boat at sea.  According to the director’s commentary, they shot the movie aboard the boats, on the Sea of Cortez, without models, or tanks.  He said it was absolute chaos, which is why it’s so rarely done.
Available DVD

The Man Without a Country***

1973  Made-for-TV. Cliff Robertson, Beau Bridges, Peter Strauss, Robert Ryan.  A young Army officer is tried for treason after becoming involved with Aaron Burr’s conspiracy to seize the western territories of the new United States and set up his own country.  At his trial, Lt. Nolan states that he wishes never to see or hear of his country again.  He is sentenced to spend the rest of his life on a ship and he will never be allowed to set foot on his country’s soil. Based on a novella by Edward Everett Hale that, at one time, was required reading for almost every American student, this TV movie features an excellent performance by Robertson and does a fine job of telling the story of a man who suffers a life-long punishment for a rash, youthful statement and, as a result, comes to love his country more than those who live in it.  Nearly the entire movie takes place aboard ships but we don’t see much actual sailing.  Most action takes place below decks. 
Available VHS reviewed by Blackhawk

Mary Bryant

2005 In 1788, Mary Bryant, a starving young Cornwall girl, is convicted of a petty crime and sentenced to seven years in the Australian penal colony of Botany Bay. When Mary initiates an escape, she embarks on an arduous four thousand-mile journey toward freedom in a tragic and triumphant story that would make her one of history's most fascinating and courageous unsung heroines.
Available DVD


Masquerade

1988 Thriller with Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly and Kim Cattrall.  A sexually charged mystery about a wealthy woman who falls for the wrong man.  Olivia (Tilly) seems to have it all: good looks, good breeding and a two-hundred- million dollar fortune. But behind the serene façade of her Easthampton seaside estate, something is missing: passion. Enter Tim (Lowe), the sexy sailing instructor and playboy.
Available DVD, VHS

Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World *****

2003 Based on the Patrick O’Brian books, screenplay and direction by Peter Weir, starring Russell Crowe as Capt. “Lucky” Jack Aubrey.  The movie starts and ends with the sound of the wind, and is quite simply the best movie ever made about the age of fighting sail.  They managed to make this as historically accurate as Hollywood gets, and totally immersed the audience in the experience of being on an 18th century frigate.  While the naval battle sequences are quite fantastic, the film is successful because director Weir chose to build the story by getting to know the men who are locked aboard the tight quarters of a small ship and how they interact everyday. The officers and the mates are well-known by the time the final battle comes. The sound effects editing alone is incredible, and that sound team was robbed of the Oscar.
Available DVD, VHS

The Master of Ballantrae***

1953 Errol Flynn, Robert Livesey.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s historical tale of a minor Highland lord who fights for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s losing cause and becomes a fugitive from the British.  His travels lead to the Caribbean where he becomes a pirate till he accumulates enough loot to go home to Scotland and claim his true love.  Not the best of Flynn’s pirate movies but enjoyable and Livesey is fine as “Colonel” Burke. 
Available DVD   Reviewed by Blackhawk

Message in a Bottle ****

1999 An excellent, thoroughly enjoyable movie, it amazes me that this did not do better at the box office. Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, and Robin Wright Penn all gave strong performances in this very touching love story, which is nowhere near as sappy as some reviewers would have you believe.  The Kevin Costner character is a boat builder and sailor, and the boats and sailing sequences are a joy!  I highly recommend this movie.
Available DVD, VHS

Midnight Crossing **

1988 Faye Dunaway, Daniel J. Travanti, Kim Cattrall, John Laughlin, and Ned Beatty. An attempt at film noir that failed. The sailboat's nice, there’s actually quite a bit of sailing, and Kim Cattrall's assets are nicely displayed at every opportunity.  But the story is very weak and the acting is uninspired.  Travanti, trying to move up from the small screen, seems over his head.  As for Dunaway, Cattrall and Beatty, it’s a colossal waste of some “A” list talent.
Available DVD, VHS

Moby Dick

Four versions of the Melville classic have been filmed.

1930 John Barrymore as Captain Ahab.  I've never seen this, but I've yet to read a favorable comment from those who have.  Evidently some scriptwriter was under the mistaken impression that he could write a better story than Melville, as they made major changes to the story.
Not available

1956 ***** Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, with Orson Welles, Harry Andrews, and Richard Basehart. Screenplay by Ray Bradbury and John Huston. Directed by John Huston. The movie is faithful to Melville's story, and much of it was shot aboard an actual ship, and in small whaleboats. It appeared as though footage of actual whaling was used in some of the sequences (this was, after all, 1956), and where models were used, it's not obvious, except for the rubber white whale. Gregory Peck was superb as Ahab, although he reportedly thought himself too young for the role.
Available DVD, VHS 

1998 ** Made-for-TV. Starring Patrick Stewart, with Gregory Peck in a supporting role.  Directed by Franc Roddam, who also had a hand in writing the script and producing this.  All of which proves that Franc Roddam is no John Huston.  For me personally, this was one of the most anxiously awaited, and ultimately disappointing films I can remember.   And to spoil it even more for me, shortly before this was broadcast, I read an article that detailed how this was filmed entirely on  a set.  They constructed a giant tank, and built a "ship" on it.  Bah, humbug!  A waste of some great actors and a wonderful story.
Available DVD, VHS

2011  Made-for-TV series. Starring Ethan Hawke, William Hurt.  The reviews are horrid.
Available DVD, VHS

Mutiny**

1952 Mark Stevens, Angela Lansbury, Patric Knowles.  Early in the War of 1812, Captain James Marshall is commissioned to run the British blockade and fetch an unofficial war loan from France.  When the crew learn the ship is carrying 10 million dollars in gold, it’s not hard for the evil, conniving Angela Lansbury to whip them into a mutiny.  It’s a decent sea story but mostly watch to see a young, attractive Lansbury chewing up the screen.
Available DVD, VHS, (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)  reviewed by Blackhawk

Mutiny on the Bounty

I have found four versions of Mutiny on the Bounty. Again, I'll list them by the year:

1933 In the Wake of the Bounty.  According to Flynn's autobiography, he was working as a schooner captain/gold miner/conman in New Guinea, when he took movie producer Joel Schwartz on a charter up the Sepik River to film background. During the course of the trip, Flynn told Schwartz that he was a descendant of one of the Bounty mutineers (Midshipman Young). This, according to Flynn, was the reason Schwartz gave him the role of Fletcher Christian, Flynn's first attempt at acting. Flynn was paid fifty pounds, plus expenses to and from Tahiti.
*Note: I've had readers question the truthfulness of this account.  And given Flynn's penchant for hyperbolic self-promotion, I wouldn't doubt that Flynn may have stretched the truth a tad.
*Note:  I’ve recently seen a couple of clips from this movie, and it appears to be mostly a documentary about the aftermath of the mutiny, and the mutineer’s descendants.  The first half of the movie is a re-enactment of the events leading up to the mutiny, the second half is a documentary about Pitcairn Island.
 
Available DVD, VHS

1935 Starred Charles Laughton as Bligh, Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian, and Franchot Tone. I've only seen bits and pieces of this one. Oscar nominations for Best Score, Best Screenplay, Best Director and the Oscar winner for Best Picture. Laughton, Gable and Tone were all nominated for Best Actor, which Tone won.
Available DVD, VHS

1963 Starred Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian, Trevor Howard as Bligh, and Richard Harris. Following in the footsteps of the '35 version, this was also nominated for 7 Academy awards, Best Picture, Best Art Director, Best Special Effects, Best Score, Best Song, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography. Brando’s version of Christian is … odd.
Available DVD, VHS

1984 The Bounty ***** The 4th version was made in 1984 and starred Anthony Hopkins as Bligh, Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian, Sir Laurence Olivier as Admiral Hood, and Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson in strong supporting roles. Considered by most critics to be revisionist, as it does not follow the popular American line on Bligh, it actually comes quite close to the truth in capturing the personalities of the two principals, and their complex relationship. The three previous movies about this historical incident are based on the Hall and Nordhoff books Mutiny on the Bounty, while this movie was based on Richard Hough's book Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian. Hopkins, Gibson, Day-Lewis, and Neeson were superb. I highly recommend this.
Available DVD, VHS.  

Mutiny on the Elsinore

1937 A tale of a rebellious hardboiled crewmen and their mutiny against a God-fearing captain.  Based on Jack London's novel, Mutiny on the Elsinore, features very convincing nautical photography of life on the huge sailing ship. Starring Academy Award winner Paul Lukas (Watch On The Rhine, 1943).
Available DVD  (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

Mysterious Island

2005 Made-for-TV miniseries. Kyle MacLachlan, Danielle Calvert, Gabrielle Anwar, Patrick Stewart, Jason Durr, Omar Gooding.  A considerably darker take on Jules Verne’s novel than the 1961 movie that featured Ray Harryhausen's special effects, this version makes the pirates much more significant characters than either the novel or the earlier movie.  The pirates actually have names and individual personalities and more lines than a simple “aaargh”.  Several lengthy scenes are shot on a Chinese junk, the pirates’ ship which is appropriate since, apparently, the mysterious island is right off the coast of Thailand.
Available DVD, review provided by Blackhawk

Nate and Hayes ***

1983 The British title was Savage Islands. Starred Tommy Lee Jones and Michael O'Keefe in the title roles. An attempt at a "buddy" movie, involving two guys, a girl (Americans), a schooner, the Philippines and Solomon Islands, blackbirders, and German and Spanish colonials. Ain't much, but if you don't have kids, it's better than Cutthroat Island. Historically inaccurate, as Bully Hayes, in reality the sort that gave pirates and slavers a bad name, is portrayed here as one of the good guys.
Available DVD, VHS

The Navigator

1924 Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire.  A rich, rather naïve young man is set adrift aboard a large, derelict sailing ship, unaware that his estranged true love is also aboard. 
They manage to miss each other in comic ways but are finally joined and must work together to survive storms and attacks by cannibals.
Available DVD,  review provided by Blackhawk

The Norseman

1978 Viking saga with Lee Majors.
Available DVD,VHS

The Odyssey****

1996 Big budget TV miniseries. Armande Assante, Greta Scacchi, Geraldine Chaplin, Christopher Lee, Irene Pappas, Bernadette Peters, Eric Roberts, Isabella Rossellini, Vanessa Williams.  This is as good as TV gets.  An excellent adaptation of a classic story.  A Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for Best Mini Series; Emmys for Best Special Effects, Best Direction; Assante won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Available DVD, VHS

Old Ironsides****

1926 Charles Farrell, George Bancroft, Wallace Beery, Esther Ralston.  Several sailors and a damsel in distress are involved in defeat of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli. Most of this movie takes place on several ships, a merchant bark, a large square-rigger made up into a very convincing stand-in for the U.S.S. Constitution, and a smaller craft used for Stephen Decatur’s famous Intrepid.  There are some amazing shots of “Old Ironsides” sailing with her flotilla of smaller warships and they are all real (ships anyway, if not warships).  It will break the heart of any ship-lover, though, to see an actual tall ship sunk to portray the sinking of the Tripolitan frigate.  The story is a fairly standard love story set against a war but it is told briskly.  The young leads are attractive and appealing and Bancroft and Beery provide plenty of comic action to keep it light.  Well worth viewing by any fan of sail or silent film.
Available VHS, review provided by Blackhawk

The Old Man and the Sea

1958 ***** Spencer Tracy. Hemingway's classic tale of the sea, wonderfully done for the big screen. Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Actor (Tracy), Oscar winner for Best Score.
Available DVD, VHS 

1990 Made-for-TV (UK) remake with Anthony Quinn.
Available DVD, VHS

1999 Animated short.  A joint Russian/Canadian film shot in Imax format.  The film won practically every award for best animated short film that year, including the Oscar.  Reviewers have described it as “stunning”.
Not available (it was only shown in Imax theaters)

One Crazy Summer

1986 John Cusack, Demi Moore, Curtis Armstrong, Joe Flaherty, Bobcat Goldthwait.  A teen romance that’s supposed to be better than most.  According to what I’ve read, at one point the teens construct a sloop, and race in a regatta.
Available DVD, VHS

The Onedin Line ****

1971 TV series.  Peter Gilmore, Tom Adams, Jessica Benton, Jane Seymour.  A  British series about rival ship lines in the 1860’s that has been described as “one third sea adventure and two thirds high-class Victorian soap opera.”  The series does an excellent job of combining the Upstairs, Downstairs sort of drama with a substantial dose of believable nautical action, most of it filmed aboard several tall ships with a few early steamships thrown in to reflect how maritime technology was changing in that period.  One episode even involves James Onedin running the Union blockade of a Confederate port to make an enormous profit on his cargo. Highly recommended.
Available DVD, review provided by Blackhawk

Pirates

1986 Written and directed by Roman Polanski, starring Walter Matthau and a bunch of Europeans. Comedy about pirates that was a box office flop, panned by the critics, although it did get an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design.  They reportedly spent half of their $30 million budget on building the ship.
Available VHS (It appears to be available on region 4 DVD)

Pirate of the Black Hawk

1958  Gérard Landry,Mijanou Bardot.  When pirates kill the former ruler of Montefore, his daughter seeks help from Captain Richard of the Black Hawk.
Available DVD (available as a set with The Adventures of Long John Silver)

Pirates Of The Caribbean:

The Curse Of The Black Pearl ****2003 Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, and Jeffrey Rush, in Disney’s live action spectacular based on their 50 year old ride.  Silly, but a lot of fun.  The stars (especially Depp) appeared to be having a lot of fun with this.  Not a whole lot of real sailing going on, although they did use some real period ships.
Available DVD, VHS

Dead Man’s Chest  2006  More silly fun with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightly.  I haven’t seen this yet.
Available DVD, VHS

At World’s End  2007 Evidently the delectable threesome missed Jeffrey Rush, so the Barbossa character is back.  More silly fun from Disney that I haven’t seen.
Available DVD, VHS

On Stranger Tides  2011 Still more silly fun from Disney that I haven’t seen.
Available DVD, VHS

Pirates of Tortuga

1961 Ken Scott, Letícia Román.  At the commission of England’s King Charles II, Captain Bart goes undercover among pirates in order to thwart their notorious leader, Henry Morgan.  Fun in a strictly turn your brain off, eat some popcorn kind of way.  Not painful to watch but at the low end of the spectrum of pirate movies.
Available DVD,  review provided by Blackhawk

Plymouth Adventure

1952 Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, Van Johnson, Lloyd Bridges.  The story of the voyage of the "Mayflower" in its historic voyage across the Atlantic to the New World.  The depiction of the hardships faced by the passengers and crew on the voyage are fairly accurate, despite any minor liberties taken with historical facts. The film won a 1953 Oscar for special effects, and the storm sequence alone is still worth the price of admission today.
Available DVD, VHS

The Princess and the Pirate

1944 Bob Hope as a coward, rescuing a princess - Virginia Mayo – kidnapped by pirates.  Also starring Walter Brennan, Walter Slezak, and Victor McLaglen
Available DVD, VHS

Reap the Wild Wind ***

1942 John Wayne, battling Key West “wreckers’, becomes embroiled in a love triangle with Ray Milland & Paulette Goddard, and gets completely upstaged by Ray Milland.  Also starring Raymond Massey, Robert Preston, Susan Hayward, Charles Bickford.  Oscar nominations for Best Art Director; Best Cinematography; and the Oscar winner for Best Special Effects.
Available DVD, VHS

Riddle of the Sands *****

1979 Simply the all-time best small-boat sailing/adventure movie! The movie manages to capture the spirit and ambiance of Erskine Childers' 1903 novel, and, with the exception of deleting the Baltic sequences, and the character of Capt. Bartels, remained remarkably faithful to the book. Simon MacCorkindale and Michael York are perfect as Davies and Carruthers, and are well supported by a superb cast, including Jenny Agutter, Jurgen Andersen, and Alan Badel. All the elements that made the book a classic are here. A must-see for all sailors, finally available on DVD in the US.
Available DVD, VHS

Saps at Sea

1940 Laurel and Hardy comedy. The two take a long sea voyage to calm Oliver's nerves, but of course things don't work out the way Oliver would like them to.
Available VHS

The Sailor from Gibraltar

1967 English psychodrama.  Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Bannon and John Hurt sailing around the Mediterranean.
Not Available

The Sea Hawk

1940 ****Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, and Alan Hale, Sr. This picture was based on Sir Francis Drake, and the English "seadogs." While the movie plays fast and loose with the details of history, it is an entertaining swashbuckler. The movie covers the early "seadog" years, and ends just as preparations are being made to meet the Spanish Armada. This was kind of a disappointing place to end an otherwise very likable movie. Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Score and Best Sound.
Available DVD ,VHS, original blk & wht, and colorized version

1924 *** (silent) Milton Sills, Enid Bennet, Lloyd Hughes, Wallace MacDonald.  The adventures of Oliver Tressilian, who goes from English gentry to galley slave to captain of a Moorish fighting ship, is a more faithful adaptation of the Rafael Sabatini novel than the 1940 Errol Flynn movie of the same name.  The rousing sea battles were done with full-sized ships, not models, creating a sense of reality and providing stock footage for other movies for years. 
Not available
Info and review provided by Blackhawk

Sea Devils

1953 Rock Hudson, Yvonne de Carlo. Based on Victor Hugo's novel Toilers of the Sea, a tale of Channel Island smugglers during the Napoleonic wars.
Available DVD (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

The Sea Gypsies ***

1978 Robert Logan. A man and his daughters set off from Seattle to sail around the world.  They pick up a stowaway and a female journalist, and then are all shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Alaska.  It’s been 25 years since I saw this, but I remember it as good family fare.
Available VHS, and instant video from amazon,com

Sea Wolf

At least nine versions of the Jack London classic:

1911 Silent

1920 Silent

1926 Silent

1930 First talking version

I have no other info on the above, except that they're all Not available.

1941 Sea Wolf ** Edward G. Robinson as Wolf Larson, Alexander Knox as Humphries; with Ida Lupino and John Garfield. I didn't like this version, and I'm not sure why, except that to me they made the story seem contrived, and the whole thing looked like it was shot on sets. And since they got the Oscar for Best Special Effects, I'm probably right.
Available VHS

1958 Wolf Larson. Barry Sullivan, Peter Graves.  Maltin reports this as "nicely done...Sullivan effective as the tyrannical skipper."
Unavailable

1975  Il lupo dei mari (Legend of the Sea Wolf)   Chuck Connors and Barbara Bach in an Italian version.  Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove.  Seeking revenge, an athletic young man joins the pirate band responsible for his father’s death.  Fairbanks put a lot into this production, building ships and ship sets.  There is lots of action and humor, as normal for one of Doug’s movies.
Available DVD, VHS (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)

1993 Sea Wolf ***** Charles Bronson as Wolf Larson, Christopher Reeve as Humphries, Catherine Mary Stewart, and the schooner Zodiac. Excellent adaptation of Jack London's story, well acted, and even the interior shots were filmed aboard the Zodiac.
Available VHS

1997 Sea Wolf.  An 'updated' remake with Stacy Keach.
Available VHS

2009 Sea Wolf.  European mini series with Sebastian Koch,  Neve Campbell and Tim Roth.  
Available DVD

Seven Seas to Calais

1962 (original title: Il Dominatore dei sette mari).  Rod Taylor.   Sir Francis Drake goes on an expedition to the New World and steals gold from the Spaniards.  An  Italian movie made at about the same level as the Hercules movies.  Uses real ships but they are clumsily disguised North African sailing vessels and bear only a vague resemblance to English galleons.
Not available
info and review provided by Blackhawk

Shipwrecked ****

1990 A coming of age movie made in Europe. Shipwrecks, pirates and treasure, it has all the elements of a good adventure story., and some excellent ships and sailing to go with it. The kids really enjoyed this. Made in Norway, the European title is Haarkon Haarkonson.
Available DVD, VHS

The Skipper **

1990 AKA Kill Cruise and The Storm. Jurgen Prochnow, Elizabeth Hurley, and Patsy Kensit.  Another failed “Dead Calm”.  Two disreputable, and desperate, young British women, stranded in Gibraltar, con a drunken, washed up German yachtsman into taking them to Barbados.   Three damaged individuals on a small boat for a four week journey, with a lot of sexual tension thrown in, makes for a good start.  Add in some wonderful locations (Gibraltar and the Mediterranean near Malta), a beautiful boat, some wonderful sailing and all that was lacking was a script.  The actions of the protagonists were unexplained and incomprehensible; the characters were one dimensional and for the most part unsympathetic.  Elizabeth Hurley’s character was the most likeable, but was underutilized.  The ending was abrupt and had little to do with the story up to that point, it seemed to be thrown in mostly for surprise value, and because they didn’t have a clear idea on how to end the situation they’d created.  A very annoying movie.

Available DVD, VHS

Sinbad Movies

*Note:  I saw Sinbad The Sailor, and 7th Voyage of Sinbad as a kid, but I don’t remember anything about them, except for the monsters.  I have no idea if there’s any sailing in any of these movies.

1947 Sinbad the Sailor. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., with Maureen O'Hara and Anthony Quinn. Sinbad after the treasure of Alexander the Great, pursued by evil sorcerers and monsters.
Available VHS

1958 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Kerwin Mathews. Sinbad after the magic lamp, pursued by evil sorcerers and monsters. Special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
Available DVD, VHS

1974 Golden Voyage of Sinbad. John Phillip Law. Sinbad after the secret of the golden map, pursued by evil sorcerers and monsters. Written, produced and special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
Available DVD, VHS

1977 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Patrick Wayne (son of the Duke), with Jane Seymour. Sinbad delivering a bewitched prince, pursued by an evil witch, and monsters. Written, produced, and special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
Available DVD, VHS  

Special Note: There is a boxed set of DVDs available that contain the three Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.  Includes: interviews with Harryhausen; original drawings and photos; footage of Harryhausen's Academy Award in 1991; exclusive notes from Harryhausen; and all three trailers. 

1989 Sinbad of the Seven Seas.  Stars Lou Ferrigno.  No Harryhausen.

Souls at Sea ***

1937 Gary Cooper, George Raft, Harry Carey Sr., Francis Dee. An interesting story of the effort to put an end to the slave trade in 1842.  Excellent performances from Gary Cooper and George Raft, who make a fine team.  The movie evokes the period it's set in, and deals with a serious, complex issue without being preachy, or dragging in 20th century mores.  And it's obvious that a couple of tall ships were used in this picture, as some of the sailing and deck scenes are wonderful.  Oscar nominations for Best Art Director, Best Score, and Best Assistant Director.
Available VHS

The Spanish Main

1945 Maureen O'Hara, Paul Henreid, Walter Slezak, and Binnie Barnes as Anne Bonney. Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
Available DVD, VHS

Summer Rental ***

1985 John Candy, Rip Torn, Richard Crenna, directed by Carl Reiner. John Candy takes his family on vacation, falls into a feud with a snobbish yachtsman (Crenna) and seeks the help of a local boatbum/ curmudgeon (Torn) in a yacht race to regain his pride and the respect of his family. It's not bad, but definitely a cut below Captain Ron (unless you're a big John Candy fan).
Available DVD, VHS

Survive the Savage Sea **

1992 TV movie starring Robert Urich and Ali MacGraw. Based on Dougal Robertson's book, which told the true story of his family's ordeal off the coast of Central America in 1972. It's a good picture, and tells a harrowing story, but I've had a hard time liking it.  It's just so irritating to me that Hollywood will take an exciting, true story, with an emotional and enlightening moral ending, and make so damn many changes to it.
Not available

 

Swallows and Amazons

There have been several versions of the Arthur Ransome classic children’s stories.  There are probably more, but these are the three that I can find.

          1963 TV series, six episodes

1977 Claude Whatham film that gets universally good reviews 
         
Available VHS, DVD, (region 2)

1984 BBC production of two books: The Big Six and Coot Club.
Available DVD
 

Swashbuckler

1976 **1/2 Robert Shaw, James Earl Jones, Genevieve Bujold and Peter Boyle.  Practically a nonstop brawl between pirates and anybody who gets in their path, this lighthearted, high-energy 1976 movie set in 18th century Jamaica is short on an actual story but thick with stunts and swordplay. It uses a real ship but one that is from a much earlier period than that in which the story is set (I think it may be the same ship used in Drake’s Venture).
Available DVD, VHS   review provided by Blackhawk

Swiss Family Robinson

There have been five movies (with one more in production as of 2006) and  seven TV series (or movies) adapted from Johann Wyss' tale of shipwrecked colonists, forced to survive on a tropical island, while defending themselves from pirates.  I read the book a loooong time ago, longer than I care to think about, so I'm uncertain as to how well any of the versions follow the book.  The only film version I've seen is Disney's, and the last time I saw that was about 10 years ago.

           

1903 Silent
Not Available

1939  UK.  IMDb lists this as a TV production.  Which only proves there are so many versions, no one can keep them straight.
Not Available

1940  To quote Maltin "...excellent adaptation of Wyss' book... impressive special effects... strong performances, and much darker elements than the Disney version.”  Freddie Bartholomew starred in this version.  He was also in the 1937 version of Captains Courageous, and the ’38 version of Kidnapped.
Not available

1958 TV movie starring Patty Duke
Not available

1960 **** The Disney version.  John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran.  Great escapist fun, I've yet to know a kid that watched this and didn't like it.  A swashbuckler for kids.  (Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran also played brothers in the Disney movie Old Yeller.)
Available DVD, VHS

1973 TV. Animated short
Not available

1975 TV series with Martin Milner (of Adam 12 fame) and Helen Hunt.
Not available

1976  Canadian TV series.  The only name I recognized was Heather Graham
 Available DVD

1998  David Carradine, Jane Seymour, James Keach.  Evidently an “updated” version, as the review I read talked about machine gun toting pirates.  It also mentioned “drunken script writers”.
Available DVD, VHS

1998  TV series starring Richard Thomas (John-boy Walton). In this version the “Swiss” family is from Boston. 
Available DVD, VHS (all 30 episodes)

2000  TV movie.  They list Will Rogers, Jr as being in this production, which can only mean it was ‘in the can’ for a long time, as WR Jr committed suicide in 1993.
Not available

2002  AKA Stranded  A US TV version without even a “B” list star.  In this version the “Swiss” family is English.
Available DVD, VHS


To The Ends of the Earth

2005 Australian TV miniseries based on the trilogy by William Golding, directed by David Attenborough, and starring Sam Neill, Jared Harris and Benedict Cumberbatch.   The story of an ambitious British aristocrat, humbled by the lives of his fellow passengers, as he embarks on an ocean voyage for Australia where he is to be an official in the colonial government.  
Available DVD

Treasure Island

There are at least 13 film versions of Treasure Island (3 silent, 6 foreign, and 4 English-language) not counting the Muppets version, the animated versions, and the derivatives (Return to Treasure Island, Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, etc., etc.). I've listed them by date, and given what I know about each:

1912 Silent

1918 Silent

1920 Silent, starring Lon Chaney

1934 *** First talking version., starred Wallace Beery as Long John Silver; Jackie Cooper as Jim Hawkins, and Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones. Considered by many to be the definitive Treasure Island. I saw this a as kid, but that was a long time ago. The rating is based on its reputation, as I remember little of it.  Jackie Cooper was much too young to play Jim Hawkins at the time, however.
Available VHS

1950 ** Walt Disney's first completely live action feature. I hate this version, it's too cutesy by a long sea mile. Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins is too young, and I could get better acting from my boys by telling them they had to wear ties and take math tests every day. I tried to show this to my sons (ages 10 and 13 at the time), we got to the departure of the Hispaniola, and they demanded we switch to the videotape of the 1990 version (which they have seen several times, and which is a family favorite). Aside from the complaints about Driscoll, it was generally agreed that the pirates were too nice, the Squire too simpering, Smollet too old and fat, and the ship models too obvious. And to top it off, they changed the ending.  Does it ever occur to screen writers and directors that there's a reason a piece of literature has endured as a timeless classic?  My 13-year-old's comment was, "the Muppets did a better job!"
Available DVD, VHS

1972 *** Made in Europe, starred Orson Welles as Long John. I've seen this one (a long time ago), and I remember being favorably impressed, although they make the same mistake that Disney makes with Jim Hawkins - they portray him far too young and cute. A European version made with a slightly different crew was released in 1972 as Die Schatzinsel (which does not appear to be available). The films feature different footage, though the story and cast are the same.
Available on VHS

1990 ***** This version was done by TBS, and was a labor of love for Charlton Heston and his son Fraser. It shows. The Hestons and TBS took the best adventure story ever written, and did justice to it. The score (by the Chieftains) is original, appropriate, and delightful, and worth having by itself. The movie was filmed in England and the Caribbean; the small boats were actually period wooden boats, superbly handled; they used a real sailing ship (the Bounty from the '63 version) for the Hispaniola. Fraser Heston wrote the screenplay, directed, and produced it, and he stuck to the story the way Robert Louis Stevenson wrote it, especially in the portrayal of Jim Hawkins as a teenager coming of age. I cannot think of a movie that was better cast - or better acted - than this one. Oliver Reed as Billy Bones, Christopher Lee as Blind Pew, Pete Postlethwaite as George Merry, Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney, Clive Wood as Captain Smollet, Julian Glover as the Doctor, Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins, and of course Charlton Heston incomparable as Long John Silver.  There simply has never been a better film pirate; Heston’s best performance of his long career, in my opinion.  Very highly recommended for all ages. Finally released on DVD in 2011.
Available DVD, VHS 

2001 Jack Palance as Long John Silver.  To quote an amazon reviewer, “This uninspired version plods along until the end, and then it becomes wretched.”
Available DVD

Twilight for the Gods ****

1958 Rock Hudson, Cyd Charisse. I caught a bit of this movie once on A&E, and it looked interesting. I have the Ernest K. Gann novel it's based on (an excellent story about the twilight of commercial sail), but I can't find a tape of it. The rating is based on what little I saw, and the fact that they seemed to be following Gann's story faithfully.

This was a real moneymaker for Gann. In his autobiography, Gann relates that the studio bought the movie rights from him, paid him to write the script, chartered his brigantine Albatross to use in the movie, and then paid him to captain it - every sailor's dream! This is the same Albatross that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 1964 (after Gann sold her). The movie White Squall is based on that incident.
Not available

Two Years Before the Mast **

1946 Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy, and William Bendix in the film of Richard Henry Dana's true story. The last time I saw this was on TV over 25 years ago.  I remember it as being pretty good, but I've gotten unfavorable comments from several people, and the description of the plot on the IMDb leads me to believe that they severely altered what Dana wrote.
Available VHS

 

The Ultimate Pirate Collection

The Ultimate Pirate Collection is a collection of sea-faring adventure movies, covering 50 years from 1926 to 1975.  There are some major motion pictures in the collection, along with a few obscure “B” movies, and one TV show.  Available on a four DVD set.

 

The Black Pirate (B&W 1926)(silent)

Corsair (B&W 1931)

Sea Devils (B&W 1931)

Law of the Sea (B&W 1931)

Windjammer (B&W 1937)
The Mutiny on the Elsinore (B&W 1937)

Jamaica Inn (B&W 1939)

Captain Kidd (B&W 1945)
Mutiny (color 1952)

Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island (color 1955)
Hell Ship Mutiny (B&W 1957)
Colossus and the Amazon Queen (color 1960)
Legend of the Sea Wolf (color 1975)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Dead Reckoning (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Devil's Stew (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Dragon Slayer (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Miss Purity's Birthday (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Pieces of Eight (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Ship of Dead (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Sword of Vengeance (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Eviction (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Execution Dock (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Necklace (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Orphan's Christmas (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Pink Pearl (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Tale of the Tooth (30min color)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: Turnabout (30min color)
.
Available DVD

The Vikings***

1958 Viking saga with Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh.  Very dated and slow moving film.  On the plus side, they did a lot of research on Vikings, so the ship, village and costumes are all very accurate.  They filmed it in Norway, so the scenery is astonishingly gorgeous.  They scenery they used for England is also quite beautiful (I haven’t been able to find out where it was shot).  They seem to have put little effort into researching the English portions of the film, as the costumes, weapons, and castle are from a period 300-400 years after this film takes place.

Available DVD, VHS

Visitors***

2003  Radha Mitchell.  A flawed movie, but worth watching.  The positives first:  Beautiful woman, great sailboat, & some great sailing.  If those interior shots (under sail) were shot in a studio, they did an excellent job recreating what a small (44’) sailboat feels like on the ocean, and how difficult performing even the simplest tasks (cooking, getting dressed) become.  It’s pretty obvious that some of the becalmed shots were done in a tank, as fog is rarely that cooperative at sea.  In spite of that, all of the shipboard scenes and sailing were very believable.  The story is interesting, and had great potential, the failure was in the execution.  A 25-year-old Australian woman, an experienced sailor, sets off on a solo circumnavigation.  On the final leg approaching Australia, she becomes becalmed in the Indian Ocean.  Tired, worn out from the voyage, and gassed by noxious fumes, she begins to hallucinate.  Lovers, toxic relationships, dying parents, genuine fears, loneliness; all the baggage we humans carry with us become manifest in her hallucinations -and here is where the movie fails.  The dreams/hallucinations are not particularly well done, as the movie can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to scare us with bogeymen, or by watching a mind unravel.  A defter, subtler hand directing and editing would have vastly improved the overall movie.
Available DVD

Violets are Blue ****

1986 Sissy Spacek, Kevin Kline, Bonnie Bedelia. An endearing and well-crafted love story set in a small town on Maryland's eastern shore.  This movie has some excellent small boat sailing sequences, including a pretty exciting Hobie cat race.  Sissy Spacek is portrayed as a competent sailor, with sailing as an important element in both the plot and in the relationships between the characters.  This movie is particularly appealing to me because the characters approach sailing the way most of us do; it’s their recreation, it’s what they do for fun.
Available DVD,  VHS

Voyage ****

1993 Made-for-TV movie with Rutger Hauer, Karen Allen, Eric Roberts. Another imitation of Dead Calm, this one is more successful than the others. I'll give you the negatives first. It's predictable, the bad guys are very one dimensional, and, like Dead Calm, there's a point where you'll be screaming at the screen, ranting for a modicum of common sense from the lead character.  On the other hand, the lead characters have a lot more depth, and Rutger Hauer and Karen Allen portray a middle aged couple, with all the associated health and emotional problems, quite well. They're attractive without being blow-dried pretty. Despite its predictability (and one or two jarring flights from common sense), the story is actually pretty good, and it takes place mostly on the sailboat. The story line takes the boat and crew from Monaco to Malta in a series of short hops down the Italian coast, making good use of some beautiful coast (Corsica and Sardinia), and good sailing. And the boat is utterly gorgeous; a sixty foot Chebec ketch named Charlie the Bird. All the deck scenes were done on the boat, most of the interior scenes looked like the real thing, and the sailing sequences are worth renting the movie for.
Available VHS

Wackiest Ship in the Army ****

1960 Comedy with Jack Lemmon and Ricky Nelson.  This movie is actually much better than the title would lead one to believe.  Set in 1943, the Allies plan to use an old trading schooner to set an Australian coast watcher on the shores of New Britain.  Jack Lemmon is conned into taking command of the old sailing vessel, crewed by a bunch of swabs who don't know a gaff from a boom. He has to get this vessel from Sydney, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea and then to the Bismarck Sea. That's about it for a plot.  What makes this movie work is that they don't overdo the bumbling crew routine, they didn't play WWII as some kind of joke (the role the Australian coast watchers played in the war effort, and the dangers they faced are some of the film's more serious moments), and they did a lot of filming onboard the schooner; there's a surprising amount of sailing in this movie.  And of course Jack Lemmon played his role to perfection, as he always does.  I found it thoroughly delightful.
Available DVD, VHS

Wake of the Red Witch ****

1948 John Wayne and Gail Russell in the film adaptation of Garland Roark's intense and dark novel. Very well done for the period, with authentic-looking sailing and good acting.  The second of John Wayne's two sailing movies.  Interestingly, John Wayne used the name of the fictional shipping company from this movie (Batjac) as the name for his production company.
Available DVD, VHS 

Wallaby Jim of the Islands

1937 A South Seas schooner captain fights off thieves and pirates who are after pearls. Tropical settings, sailing vessels, bad people, not so bad people, good people, sounds like Adventures in Paradise.
Available DVD
(seems to be in a lot of DVD sets).


Waterworld ***

1995 Okay, it's flawed but hey, Kevin Costner as the sailor of the future, versus Dennis Hopper as the evil stinkpotter, that works for me. Oscar nomination for Best Sound. Razzie nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Costner), Worst Director (Kevin Reynolds - with an assist to Costner) and Worst Supporting Actor (Hopper). Picky picky picky!  This movie is actually pretty entertaining, if you think of it as “Mad Max goes to sea”.
Available DVD, VHS

The Weight of Water**

2000 Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley, Sarah Polley.  The movie takes place in 1873, and the present, situated amongst the islands of New Hampshire.  The movie in the present is shot almost entirely aboard a nice looking ketch, although there are only a few seconds of sailing in the beginning, and then a struggle at the end during a storm.  While in the past, there are a couple of scenes of period wooden fishing schooners under sail.  Other than that, and a brief glimpse of Miss Hurley’s bosom, the movie sucks.  It’s utterly contrived and predictable.  How did Elizabeth Hurley find two bad sailing movies to star in?
Available DVD

White Squall *****

1996 A modern story of tall ship sailing, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Jeff Bridges. Based on a true story, this is the best sailing movie not based on a classic novel, and ranks as one of the best sailing movies ever made. The story, sailing, and acting are all excellent.
Available DVD, VHS

Wind ****

1992 Lightweight, but enjoyable. The fictionalized story of the '87 America's Cup. Preferable to the real thing since Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey are better-looking and far more likable than Dennis Conner. With the exception of one small scene, all the sailing was filmed on the water, using real twelve meters. For the crews, they recruited real sailors, and taught the stars to sail. This, of course, made for some very believable sailing scenes, which made up for a rather unbelievable story. Grey reportedly became an enthusiastic sailor, and bought herself a sailboat.
Available DVD, VHS 

Wind in the Willows

How could I not include the film versions of Kenneth Grahame's delightful fairy tale? There are three animated versions, and one "live". The three animated versions all get at least four stars. I'll reserve judgment on the live version until I see it.

1949 Disney.
Available DVD, VHS

1983 Made-for-TV (UK). This one is animation/stop motion
Available DVD, VHS

1987 Made-for-TV (US). This is the only version I've seen as an adult. I have favorable memories of it, however it got the lowest ratings of the four versions from the IMDb.
Available  VHS

1996 Live action. Monty Python does a classic fairy tale. Written, directed by and starring Terry Jones (as Toad), with Eric Idle (Rat), Steve Coogan (Mole), Nicol Williamson (Badger) and John Cleese (Toad's lawyer). I was unsure about including this version here, as the plot summary I chanced to read didn't sound like it had much in common with the book.
Available  DVD, VHS

Windjammer

1937  George O’Brien, Constance Worth.  A lawyer is shanghaied on a voyage across the Pacific aboard a large sailing yacht and must rescue a beautiful blonde from sinister gun-runners when their yacht is wrecked by the gun-runners windjammer.
Available DVD (Included in the Ultimate Pirate collection DVD)
 review provided by Blackhawk

The World in His Arms ****

1952 Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Ann Blyth, John McIntire. San Francisco-based sealers operating against the law in Russian Alaska in the 1850s. A little known film, in spite of the stars, I saw this a long time ago on TV, and I enjoyed it. I had read the book when I was a teenager.
Available DVD, VHS

Yankee Buccaneer*

1952 Directed by Fredric De Cordova. Starring Jeff Chandler as Commander David Porter, Scott Brady as Lieutenant David Farragut, with David Jansson, James Parnell, and Jay Silverheels (Tonto from The Lone Ranger television series).  Typical 1950s swashbuckler.  They’ve played fast and loose with historical names, and timelines, the story has little relationship with reality, less with fact.. It’s all models and sets, no real sailing and nothing that resembles it.  I know it’s a nitpick, but the swabbies uniforms were ridiculous.  They looked like they’d been borrowed from a community theater’s production of Pirates of Penzance
Available DVD (as a boxed set with Against All Flags, The Buccaneer’s Girl, and Double Crossbones)

Yellowbeard ****

1983 Monty Python goes to sea. Good fun. With Graham Chapman, Peter Boyle, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Eric Idle, Madeline Kahn, James Mason, John Cleese, Kenneth Mars, and Susannah York.
Available DVD

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